I saw my first theatrical movie in a very long time yesterday, Milk, starring Sean Penn. I went with my friend, Mrs. Lesto, who had acquired "free" tickets from a DVD promotion. The movie turned out to not be free for either one of us.
We had exactly one theater to choose from, and the earliest showing was 4:10 pm--ten minutes after the last "matinee" showing. We found out that the matinee price would have been $7.75 each, and our "free" tickets were valued at $7.50. No big whoop, except that the evening price--and since when is 4:10 pm "evening?"--was $10.50. So, we paid it, who cares, right? But I must have popcorn at a movie. And the cost for a large popcorn and two drinks was $18.00. Which I paid, for some reason. But I think they've reached the absolute ceiling on the amount of money I'll pay for such an indulgence. If you're keeping score, at full price, that would be $39.00 total. Crazy. I don't think I'll be going back any time soon.
But the movie was great. I didn't know much about Harvey Milk back in the 70s. I was in my "tween" years, and gay rights and politics was far off of my radar. But in the ensuing years, I have gleaned a little about the story. From the historical importance of an openly gay politician, to the infamous "Twinkie" defense, to the ludicrously light sentence of Dan White for murdering two people, I knew the basic story. I even remember a docudrama on the story, starring Tim Daly as Dan White, told mostly from White's perspective.
But this movie was better, far better. Every actor was incredible, but Sean Penn's performance was spectacular. I actually forgot it was Penn at times, he was so immersed in the character. The story has particular resonance after the passage of Proposition 8 in California, and shows how far--and how not so far--we have come. The interweaving of contemporary video of Walter Cronkite, Diane Feinstein, Tom Brokaw and Anita Bryant were very well done, and actually produced an occasional gasp.
If overt gay (or any) sex gives you a wiggins, you need not worry here. There were sex scenes, but they were fleeting, and no more graphic than anything you might see on Nip/Tuck. In fact, the movie could play on broadcast television with only the barest of cuts. If, on the other hand, two guys kissing freaks you out, you might be well advised to stay away. And why would you see this film anyway, if that was the case?
Actually, the squeamish audience might be best served to watch this film, whatever their reservations. You might finally see what the gay rights movement is all about, and why it is important.
My score: Highly Recommended